‘He cried for help’

SEARCH PARTY… A young man, Anthony Elricho Williams (22), drowned at the Mole, Swakopmund on Saturday afternoon. Williams’ body had still not been recovered by late yesterday afternoon, despite a search party at sea since the incident happened. His family says he was an experienced swimmer, but experienced a cramp while swimming. Photo: Contributed
…cousin of drowned man recalls his last moments

The cousin of a young man who drowned at Swakopmund over the weekend says he tried saving him but to no avail.

Manuel Manuel, the cousin of 22-year-old Anothny Elricho Williams said they had gone for a swim on Saturday afternoon when the tragedy happened at Mole beach. Williams was an experienced swimmer, but on Saturday, he got a suspected cramp while he was swimming. His body has not been recovered and a search party was sent out the same day.

The cousins had ventured past the first and second rocks near the Mole’s shore, with Williams trailing behind. It was then that Manuel noticed something amiss.

“I checked back and he was struggling… maybe he got a cramp,” Manuel speculated.

Attempting to assist his cousin, Manuel faced his own peril as Williams, in his panic, began to drag him down.

“He said to me, ‘Please help me.’ He couldn’t kick because of a cramp,” Manuel said, but despite his efforts and the presence of another individual, they were unable to save Williams.

Manuel said that he got entangled with seaweed and wanted to get loose. He went up for air, but when he went back down for Williams, he was gone. Erongo police spokesperson chief inspector Ileni Shapumba confirmed the incident. “While the cousins were a bit in front from him while they were swimming, they noticed that he was going down deep in the water, until they could no longer see him. They started searching for him, sadly without success,” Shapumba reported.

Despite immediate efforts by his companions and subsequent search operations by other Sea Rescue teams, Williams remained missing.

Sean Naudè of the Namibia Marshall Rangers, involved in the search efforts, expressed frustration at the delayed notification of the incident to his team.

“I only found out almost two hours later. We could have reacted immediately,” he said.

Naudè and his team conducted extensive searches, including free diving and using grappling hooks to comb the ocean floor on Saturday and yesterday.

“I’m not going to give up,” he told The Namibian on yesterday at noon.

“I will give up when the sun sets, and I want to make sure no one has to go through the ordeal of discovering the body having been washed out on shore.”

He confirmed the police version of the incident, adding: “We cannot say what could have happened for this swimmer to have drowned.”

In a separate incident at Omaruru on Friday, two young siblings, five-year-old Isabella Schatter and two-year-old Noah Schatter, were found lifeless in a swimming pool by their grandmother, who had earlier picked them up from kindergarten, according to a police incident report.

The grandmother and her husband rushed the children to the Omaruru State Hospital, where they were pronounced dead. The police are conducting post-mortem examinations to determine the exact causes of death as investigations continue.

In the wake of these tragic events, the Swakopmund municipality has taken proactive steps towards enhancing community safety by introducing a toll-free emergency hotline.

This initiative, announced on Friday, aims to provide a lifeline to residents and visitors in times of crisis. The toll-free number 1411 is available 24/7, offering free access to emergency services for everyone.

The service promises quick response times and comprehensive support across a wide range of emergencies, including medical crises, fire incidents or any other urgent situations.

Residents and visitors are urged to dial 1411 in emergencies, providing crucial information such as their exact location, street name and the nature of the incident to facilitate a swift response.

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